BenQ GH700 Review

3.0
January 2, 2013 | Gavin Stoker |

Image Quality


All of the sample images in this review were taken using the 16 megapixel JPEG setting, which gives an average image size of around 4Mb.

Our first shots attempted with the BenQ GH700 were taken indoors under tungsten lighting at an exhibition - always a cruel test of any camera, never mind a budget one. Unsurprisingly the results were mostly (but not universally) awful: soft, shaky images unless we stood right next to our subject and fired the flash in their face. Colour balance we noticed could also be a little off and vary at whim from shot to shot.

Thinking we hadn’t given the camera a fair chance, we pounced on the next sunny autumn day we were lucky enough to be granted. Under clear blue skies surely the BenQ would deliver its best? To be fair it probably did; we managed to achieve sharper results generally and we had great fun in particular trying out the HDR mode, which gave a welcome boost to the colour and exposure of certain images without delivering a result that was massively unrealistic. Indeed some results merely looked like they had been taken with the ‘vivid’ mode of other more notable brands.

Familiar budget camera bugbears did however rear their head with the BenQ. Pixel fringing here is notably horrendous and, even though we have optical image stabilization on board, it can take two or three attempts to achieve a satisfactorily crisp - by which we mean not quite pin sharp - result towards the telephoto end of the lens reach. This isn’t unheard of on bridge cameras and super zooms, though paying a bit more money does seem to proportionally raise your chances of getting a ‘keeper’ at full zoom.

In terms of low light performance without flash, noise does begin predictably to creep into shadow areas above ISO400. At ISO1600 we’re seeing in-camera sharpening being applied, so even though the result may appear slightly better defined than an image taken at ISO800, it looks marginally grittier in terms of noise visibility in shadow areas too. However in fairness we would say shots at this setting are usable. At ISO3200 and ISO6400 it doesn’t help that we’re having to cope with a resolution drop to three megapixels, so that results appear a mere facsimile of what has been achieved at a more photo realistic ISO400 setting.

Noise

There are 7 ISO settings available on the BenQ GH700. Here are some 100% crops which show the noise levels for each ISO setting.

ISO 160 (100% Crop)

ISO 200 (100% Crop)

   

ISO 400 (100% Crop)

ISO 800 (100% Crop)

   

ISO 1600 (100% Crop)

ISO 3200 (100% Crop)

   

ISO 6400 (100% Crop)

 
 

Sharpening

Here are two 100% crops which have been Saved as Web - Quality 50 in Photoshop. The right-hand image has had some sharpening applied in Photoshop. The out-of-the camera images are sharp enough at the default sharpening setting and don't benefit that much from further sharpening in a program like Adobe Photoshop.

Original (100% Crop)

Sharpened (100% Crop)

   

Chromatic Aberrations

The BenQ GH700 handled chromatic aberrations fairly well during the review, with some purple fringing present around the edges of objects in certain high-contrast situations, as shown in the examples below.

Chromatic Aberrations 1 (100% Crop)

Chromatic Aberrations 2 (100% Crop)

Macro

The BenQ GH700 offers a Super Macro setting that allows you to focus on a subject that is 1cm away from the camera when the lens is set to wide-angle. The first image shows how close you can get to the subject (in this case a compact flash card). The second image is a 100% crop.

Macro

Macro (100% Crop)

Flash

The flash settings on the BenQ GH700 are Auto Flash, Auto Anti Red-eye, Force On, Slow Sync, Forced Off. These shots of a white coloured wall were taken at a distance of 1.5m.

Off - Wide Angle (25mm)

On - Wide Angle (25mm)

ISO 64 ISO 64
   

Off - Telephoto (525mm)

On - Telephoto (525mm)

ISO 64 ISO 64

Here are some portrait shots. As you can see, both the Force On and the Auto Anti Red-eye settings caused a tiny amount of red-eye.

Force On

Force On (100% Crop)
   

Auto Anti Red-eye

Auto Anti Red-eye (100% Crop)

Night

The BenQ GH700's maximum shutter speed is 1 second, which is not great news if you're seriously interested in night photography. The shot below was taken using a shutter speed of 1 second at ISO 800.

Night

Night (100% Crop)

Entry Tags

compact, review, 1080p, samples, images, 16 megapixel, test, jpeg, video, super-zoom, super zoom, 25mm, movies, 3 inch, bridge, superzoom, 21x zoom, lcd, screen, benq, 3-inch, gh700, benq gh700, BenQ GH700 Review

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